Refrigeration found its strongest supporters in its early days among those who wanted to ship and preserve meat, rather than live animals. Ice machines began replacing the ice cutters on lakes in the mid-1800s, followed by cold stores (late 1800s) and refrigerators (early 1900s), completing American’s cold chain. These developments led to the industrialization of food, characterized by distended transportation networks which led to waste reduction and the globalized food markets. While refrigeration has been growing at a frantic pace since its inception, the popularity of the frozen meal category has varied widely.
In the early ’60 - ‘70s, there was general excitement  surrounding “pre-made” microwavable frozen meals, relieving a family from the stress of home cooking. That perspective ebbed and flowed, and by the early ‘90s, consumers started paying attention to nutritional research as many turned to the internet. As certain ingredients – additives, fillers, preservatives – became associated with “unhealthy” processed foods, many scoffed at “frozen meals” such as LeanCuisine, Stouffer’s, and Marie Callender’s.
Responding to consumer demand for nutritious offerings, old and new companies, alike, rose to the challenge and began reforming the frozen meal category. In parallel with the growing popularity of plant-based diets during the 2010s,  companies slowly introduced new frozen selections of higher quality, taste, and nutrition. As a result, families showed a renewed interest in frozen meals.
The growth rate of the plant-based category took a strong turn upon the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic. In an effort to boost overall health and immunity, consumers flocked to grocery stores seeking healthy meals, typically linked with plant-based offerings. As a result, frozen meals experienced one of the highest growth rates of food categories during 2020, regaining a foothold in the CPG industry. 
Why frozen? Frozen meals have an incredibly long shelf-life and offer both variety and convenience. As the pandemic forced restaurants to shutdown, meal options became limited and food hoarding behaviors in grocery stores took effect. Consumers turned to frozen meals as a source of security. Plant-based frozen meals also served as a simple solution for new plant-based adopters, those seeking variety in taste, and consumers tired of cooking.
A number of sources have estimated market demand for frozen meals, especially, in the plant-based sector:
Plant-based frozen meals are a small, but rapidly growing piece of the overall plant-based market.
To keep pace with consumer demand, the number of vegan frozen meal companies have significantly increased over the past few years. Recently, companies are launching new frozen SKUs, offering a wider variety of flavors, cuisines, and formats that are both good tasting and healthy.
Companies offering vegan frozen meals are strategically targeting several different audiences in an effort to differentiate themselves.  See examples below of how frozen plant-based companies are positioning themselves:
As demonstrated in the diagram above, there are a few examples within the Unovis portfolio that demonstrate the growing diversity of offerings within the vegan frozen meal sector:
The vegan frozen meal category has made significant progress over the past few years, however, there are several untapped opportunities.
Similar to the plant-based industry, frozen meals are here to stay. The technique of freezing food, as a means of preservation, has existed for thousands of years.  As history repeats itself, frozen meals have, once again, re-established themselves as a popular grocery store item.
As discussed previously, the US frozen plant-based market has the potential to increase its piece of the billion-dollar frozen foods “pie” due to the following key drivers:
 Gust, Lauren. MIT - Intersect. “Defrosting Dinner: The Evolution of FrozenMeals in America.” Volume 4, Number 1. 2011.
 Ramanathan, Lavanya. The Washington Post. “How ‘plant-based’ rebranded vegan eating for the mainstream.” Feb 15th, 2019.
 Browne. Michael. Supermarket News. “Frozen Food sales up 21% in 2020 as COVID alters shopping and eating behaviors.” Feb 23rd, 2021.
 Grand View Research. “Frozen Food Market Side, Share and Trends, 2020-2027.” April 2020.
 Businesswire & Technavio. “Frozen Food Market – Demand of Vegan Frozen Food to Boost the Market Growth.” Oct 9th, 2020.
 Morse, Madison. Foodtank. “COVID-19 Spurs Demand in the Frozen Food Industry.” Feb 2021.
 Devenyns, Jessi. Food Dive. “Frozen food sales soar with homebound consumers during pandemic.” Dec 23rd, 2020.
 PlantBased Food Association. “2020 was a breakout year for plant-based foods.” April 2021.
 Food Ingredients 1st. “Chilled trends: Frozen foods surge during COVID-19, suppliers highlight opportunities in ‘Segment of the future.’” July 13th, 2020.
 Hamstra, Mark. CO. “Pandemic Fuel the Upscale Makeover of Frozen Food.” July 13th, 2020.
 Eater. “The Strange History of Frozen Food.” August 21st, 2014.